Atlantic Beach Town Council bans open carry at Bikefest, teams with doctor for COVID testing

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 9:30 PM EST
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ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Bikefest will make its long-awaited return to Atlantic Beach come Memorial Day.

Between public safety, coronavirus concerns and the new open carry law, town leaders had plenty of details to hash out during a town council meeting Monday night.

After being canceled for two years due to the pandemic, Bikefest’s founder can’t wait for all of that lively energy to fill these streets once again.

“I never road a bike in my life,” said John Sketers.

Sketers considers himself a historian of sorts for Atlantic Beach, considering he’s lived in the town for decades.

He’s so invested in the history he became part of it himself in 1980 when he helped launch Bikefest.

“It’s not that I’m a bike enthusiast of anything like that,” Sketers said. “I saw the need to have more revenue come to the town of Atlantic Beach.”

Over the course of four decades, he’s watched Bikefest grow from a few hundred bikers a year, to more than 20,000.

He hasn’t been able to see many bikes at all in the past few years as the event was canceled due to the pandemic.

It’s back this year, and a doctor on 30th Avenue South has come up with a way to make sure everyone feels welcome, and safe, while they’re cruising up and down Ocean Boulevard.

“He has a grant to do health screenings, COVID testing and shots during Bikefest weekend.”

While bikers will have the chance to roll up their sleeves for a vaccine, they won’t be able to roll along with any exposed firearms.

The state legislature passed an open carry bill last year, however, the Atlantic Beach town council decided to ban open carry at all town events, including Bikefest.

Sketers feels one thing missing from Bikefest in the past is Atlantic Beach apparel, so he’s got some this year for people to pick up, that way, they can embrace a little history that he loves so much.

“I would love everyone to have a piece of Atlantic Beach to take back home, wherever they came from,” Sketers said. “That will help people understand more about Atlantic Beach.”

The Atlantic Beach Police chief will be meeting with chiefs from around the county next month to get public safety sorted out.

That way everything will be set for the big week at the end of May.

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